Post-Easter Evaluation: Don’t Miss It!

Most growing churches will have incredible stories to share today about their Easter services yesterday. At Grace Community Church, we are still overwhelmed with all God did with us.

In addition to the normal celebration of Jesus’ resurrection, I love the energy that Easter brings to a church.  That energy, if channeled correctly, can fuel a church beyond one day per year.

The problem I see with many churches, however, is that they stop the work put into the Easter services a few days too early.  Many churches close the church doors on Easter Sunday, begin the celebration of all God did and take a much deserved rest, but they leave some of the best work of Easter’s momentum undone.  One of the most important parts of effective Easter services that last beyond one day is to spend time evaluating after Easter Sunday.

Today and/or this week is the best time to evaluate. Your church staff/volunteers should be asking questions such as:

  • What worked?
  • What didn’t work?
  • What did we miss?
  • Where did we hit home runs?
  • How could it have been better?
  • What follow-up with visitors do we need to do now?
  • What changes would we make next year?
  • What did we do that had the greatest impact?
  • What did we do that had little or no impact?
  • What groups of people did God bring to the church? (Many times, you’ll see patterns…lots of single moms, young couples, young professionals, etc.)

Don’t close the books on this year’s Easter services until you evaluate.  This time next year, you will forget the answers to many of these questions.  Ask the questions, record the answers, then use them to make your church better all year and save that information to improve even more next Easter.

How does your church evaluate Easter services?

Happy Easter! He Is Risen! Take Off The Grave Clothes!

When He had said this Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” John 11:43-44 NIV

This event triggered the Pharisees to crucify Jesus. Lazarus had been dead four days. Jewish tradition prompted the family to bury soon after death, but the Jews also believed the spirit hovered over the dead body for up to three days. This time too had passed. Lazarus was a fully dead man! It was a real miracle to bring him back to life, and this was too much for the Pharisees.  What the Pharisees underestimated was that this power would continue to be exhibited in the life of Christians for thousands of years to come. If you are a child of God, you have been brought from death unto life.

Jesus had raised Lazarus from the grave. We should love the story because it shows the power of the Savior. We can know that if He can raise the dead to life, we can trust Him to help us make our house payment or whatever struggles our life may hold.  We need to remember that today. Since Jesus has power over death, is there anything in your life that He can’t handle?

Jesus came to give us life! Jesus told Lazarus to take off His grave clothes, to quit “living” like he was dead. Shouldn’t we do the same thing? Have you received Christ as your Savior? Is your name recorded in Heaven as a child of God? Have the angels sung “Glory” over your salvation? Have you personally, without reservation, believed that Jesus died for your sins, and that the only way you will enter Heaven is through the grace of His shed blood on the cross?

Well, TAKE OFF YOUR GRAVE CLOTHES! Quit “living” among the dead. Look alive! Jesus saved you by grace, through faith, not unto death, but unto life! Shouldn’t that make a noticeable difference in your life today? SO LIVE! Don’t let this world steal your joy. Don’t let Satan rob you of your peace. Stop worrying over tomorrow.  Start living!

Take off your grave clothes and LIVE!

What’s one huge request of God that you’ve been praying He will do? (Do you trust that He can?)

Happy Easter!

Killing Your Goliaths

I was reminded recently that God is powerful enough for the giants in my life.  Reading the story of David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17) challenged me to step out of my comfort zone and attack some of the current challenges I am facing.

You have challenges too, I would suspect.

What’s that one thing in your life that:

  • Taunts you constantly…
  • You can’t seem to face…
  • Has you confused…
  • Won’t go away…
  • Has you running scared…
  • Backs you in a corner….

What’s the Goliath in your life that needs slaying?

Is YOUR God big enough to kill the giant?

My God is…

Grab your slingshot…

Sin Often Begins With One Glance…Be Careful Little Eyes What You See

“It happened, late one afternoon…” 2 Samuel 11:2

…and the rest is history…

It was just a normal afternoon, until David crossed the line…

He was laying on the couch…

He was minding his own business…

He was innocent at the time…

Then the beauty caught his glance…

Still innocent…

But the glance became a passion…

What started as an innocent glance…became an obsession….

David used his power and the situation as an opportunity to gratify his desires…

It was all downhill from there…

Next came adultery…and lies…and murder…and death…and family strife…and…

What can we learn from David’s failure?

You can’t stop yourself from being tempted, but you can stop yourself from allowing temptation to control your life….

Before the glance becomes your downfall….

Guard your heart and mind…

Be careful little eyes what you see….

Have you been allowing little temptations to take control of your heart and life?

Leaders Lead…Even Without a Position of Leadership

I am fascinated by the story in 1 Samuel 23:1-5.

David saved a city, without any assigned position of leadership.  Sure, he had been anointed to be king, but he wasn’t yet “sworn in” to office.  He was a king in waiting.

It reminds me of an important principle about leaders.  Real leaders don’t need to have a position to make a difference.

David’s first leadership assignment was self-appointed, when he went after Goliath, because his people were too afraid to act.

Leaders lead because there is some cause worth leading, no one else is taking leadership, and they are willing to risk their personal comfort and reputation to see it through to completion.

What cause do you see that needs championing?  Has God called you to be a leader?  Do you feel the urge to lead?

Then start leading…That’s what leaders do…

What Are Your Expectations Of A Pastor/Minister’s Family Life?

All eyes are always on the minister’s family and having been on both sides, as a full-time vocational minister and years as someone with a full-time secular job, let me assure you that most pastors feel the pressure to live up to the standards of excellence people have set. I’m thankful I have a great marriage (most days) and two great boys. I’m fine with you making decisions about me based on my family life, because right now, thankfully, things are going well, but still, I also sense the pressure to live up to a set of unrealistic expectations at times.

The false expectation may often feel like I’m not supposed to have disagreements with my wife, my kids are never to be the ones that misbehave at times, or when you see Cheryl and me in public we should always be holding hands as we pray together.

I know what the Scripture says: He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) (1 Timothy 3:4-5)

Does that, however, mean the minister must have a perfect marriage and perfect children?

Is the standard you have set for the minister’s family higher than the one you have set for your family?

I’m curious, what expectations do you have of a pastor’s family?

Balancing Your Strengths and Weaknesses

I have posted many times before about my attempt at discovering my strengths and weaknesses. The older I get the more I realize things I’m not good at doing. This discovery process has led me to what I believe is the perfect combination on a team:

If we can partner people highly skilled at creating ideas…

…With people highly skilled at implementing them…

We can accomplish anything together.

It’s rare to find one person equally good at both. Not always is the same person who creates the idea the right one to accomplish it.  I’m an idea generator, but I’m not always a great idea implementer. I love big visions, but I miss details. I love to see big dreams realized, so I often push people too hard with new ideas, rather than helping them complete the last idea. While I don’t believe I’m wrong for being an idea generator, it would be wrong for me not to recognize where my strengths end and my weakness begins.  I know I must surround myself with people skilled at making and implementing systems and plans to accomplish them.

Great idea creators sometimes need to be willing to hand off the implementation to someone skilled in doing so.  Otherwise, some of the best ideas never see the light of day.

Consider these questions:

Which are you? Have you tried to be both in your organization?

Do you need to partner with others, give them freedom to stretch you, and allow progress to move forward?

What weakness do you need to balance with someone else’s strength?

Be willing to admit your weaknesses and surround yourself with lots of people wired opposite of you!

10 Questions With Leader Jon Acuff: Stuff Christians Like

Jon Acuff is a funny, intelligent, mega-blogging leader at Stuff Christians Like. When I originally started this series I honestly overlooked some of the best leaders, because I falsely limited myself to people that have positions in a church or ministry. Jon has one of the most read blogs in the church world today. If Jon posts something, others instantly take notice. I call that influence, and if leadership is about influence, Jon is one of the best.

You can buy Jon’s new Stuff Christians Like book HERE and follow him on Twitter HERE.

Here are 10 questions with leader Jon Acuff:

When you were growing up, is this what you thought you would be doing vocationally? If not, what did you want to do?

Since the third grade when a teacher laminated a book of poetry I wrote I knew I wanted to be a writer. I thought she had published it and I really wanted to keep writing from that moment on.

What’s the most different job you’ve had from what you are doing now and how did that job help you with what you are doing now?

I was a mailman one summer. It was hard. I was pretty lazy at the time and not very disciplined. I made that job a lot harder than it needed to be with my complete lack of focus. I would say realizing the self created frustration of that summer helped me make smarter decisions in my current job.

Who is one person, besides Christ, who most helped to shape your leadership and how did they help you?

I would say my dad. In addition to one on one leadership, I got to watch him start a Southern Baptist Church in New England. His approach to what was a really difficult challenge really shaped how I approach things.

Besides the Bible, what is one book that has most helped to shape your thought process in life and ministry?

I would say “The War of Art” by Pressfield.

What are three words other people would use to describe your work style/ethic?

Creative. Motivational. Funny

What is your greatest strength in leadership?

Ability to start new projects.

What is your greatest weakness in leadership?

Ability to finish old projects.

What is the hardest thing you have to do in leadership?

Following through on commitments that have lost the shine and are now down into the grind. I stink at completing things and getting others to complete things.

What is one misconception about your position you think people may have?

People sometimes think I write Stuff Christians Like full time, but I have a full time job and only get to spend about an hour a day on it.

If you could give one piece of advise to young leaders from what you’ve learned by experience, what would it be?

Determine a time to do the thing you are dedicated to and then do it. Don’t argue with yourself about whether you will do it. Just say, “Every morning at 6, I will do this thing.” And then do it.

Are there other leaders I’ve been missing? To read all the interviews I’ve done in this series, click HERE.

Myth Buster: God Will Put (Allow) More On You Than YOU Can Handle

My most popular post since I started this blog is a post denouncing the myth that “God will not put more on us than we can allow.” It is found by Google search several times daily, indicating people are looking for the phrase in the Bible. I continue to receive challenges to my claim that this phrase is not in Scripture because they have heard it so long they can’t believe it must be there somewhere. So far, however, no one has found that exact phrase in the Bible. Of course, I consistently get pointed to 1 Corinthians 10:13, which says No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.” I’m sorry, but I can’t see where that verse says anything about the trials of life, which I believe the myth is referring to. This verse is talking about temptation, and even then the context of the passage deals with Christ’s strength in us, not our own.

You can read the original post HERE.

I realize the intended meaning is that if we rely on God we can handle anything, and I know people most often share it with a desire to comfort others, but the reason I like to challenge this claim is that I continue to encounter people that feel something is wrong with them. They are overwhelmed with life, confused, and desperately trying to figure out why they can’t cope with the stress of life. They have heard that God “will not put more on them than they can handle” and yet their circumstances tell them otherwise. The well-intended message almost becomes an indictment against a person struggling to wade through the storms of life, because they are left wondering why they can’t seem to find the power within them to overcome the emotions of distress.

The fact is, as I’ve said before, this world is messed up, broken and impossible to navigate on our own. God will allow more than we can handle ON OUR OWN, because His greatest desire is that we learn to rely on Him completely. The power we have within us to face life’s trauma is the power of Christ. I have had countless times in my life where life was desperate enough that I finally recognized that apart from the grace of God, I could not handle life. I think that’s what God is looking for from His children and that’s a more comforting message to share with people in distress.

Have you heard this phrase applied in your life? Have you had times you didn’t feel you could handle the stress in your life and wondered what God was doing?

Put your complete trust in God and His strength to see you through this time. With His help, you can face anything…but don’t try to handle life on your own.

The Goal of the Church is NOT to Get Comfortable

This was honestly a challenging message for me to deliver to our church, but I’m afraid many times as believers we are tempted to look for the comfortable over the things that God would call us to do.  Listen to last weeks message as I share some “encouragement” not to get too comfortable.